What is Strategic Foresight?

Who hasn’t been surprised by an unexpected political event? Or had to rethink their plans because of something they hadn’t prepared for? Or found that the usual way of solving a problem doesn’t work any more? In times of rapid change and rising uncertainty, these are challenges that every government faces more and more. Strategic foresight helps us to anticipate and better prepare.

Strategic foresight is a structured and systematic way of using ideas about the future to anticipate and better prepare for change. It is about exploring different plausible futures that could arise, and the opportunities and challenges they could present. We then use those ideas to make better decisions and act now.

Foresight can support government policy-making in the following main ways:

  • Better anticipation: to better anticipate changes that could emerge in the future

  • Policy innovation: to reveal options for experimentation with innovative approaches

  • Future-proofing: to stress-test existing or proposed strategies and policies

Strategic Foresight at the OECD

The Strategic Foresight Unit works with many governments and organisations facing many different strategic challenges. The Unit’s work involves supporting governments, enhancing OECD work, and preparing the OECD for the future.

: For any queries on Foresight please write to [email protected].

Did you know?

Strategic foresight played a role in the development of post-apartheid South Africa. An exercise known as the Mont Fleur scenarios brought together prominent South Africans from across the ideological spectrum. They discussed contrasting ideas about how the country could look in ten years’ time. The exercise generated valuable lessons which South African leaders learned from in the following years.

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